Philip Selway Weatherhouse Bella Union
One of the inherent risks of being in a band like Radiohead is that any further work bearing your name will be judged in its overbearing critical light. Oftentimes this weight of expectation is enough to deter artists from going it alone, yet Philip Selway is the third member of the superband to take that plunge – not a bad ratio in a group with only five members. This commitment to pursuing extra-curricular musical projects is certainly worthy of praise. However, while Thom Yorke’s commensurable musicianship and experience as a lead vocalist can (usually) be relied upon to produce material not far from Radiohead’s own standard, a couple of listens to Phil Selway’s debut effort Weatherhouse leaves one lasting impression – there’s a reason he’s not ordinarily a singer. And Selway isn’t so much a bad singer, just a rather bland one. The instrumentation across the 10 tracks is, for the most part, pretty robust. Opener Coming Up For Air is compelling in its ponderous broodiness; It Will End In Tears has a genuinely rousing, string-backed finale; while the drumming on Around Again is – as you might expect – both dense and skilful. However, for the most part the songwriting feels shallow and undeveloped, with Selway’s naive lyrics and predisposition towards twee melodies resulting in something that is, ultimately, a little lacking in impact. From a new artist on the scene, Weatherhouse might seem like a competent debut with room for real promise; from an artist as well travelled as Selway, it’s a little too predictable in its choices to be really memorable.